In a digitally connected world online reputation is very important for any business especially in the hospitality industry as it is a service industry and guest servicing is the most important aspect.
In today’s world, if guests have bad experience they do not share it with people in their network. Instead they share it with the world on websites like TripAdvisor and so on.
This negatively impacts the online reputation of a hotel or a resort and directly affects the prospective guests in their decision making stage.
Hotels usually adopt a strategy of acknowledging to the negative guest review and empathizing with them on these websites. Though on the onset this strategy might seem to work and create an impression that the hotel is empathizing with the guests’ negative experience and has assured to take necessary action to ensure this does not repeat again.
But in reality the negativity is already on the internet and the possible damage has been done.
Hotels can escape this trap if the negative reviews are few, but if there are a considerable amount of negative reviews then it is hugely going to affect new inbound sales.
Having understood the impact of not taking good care of the guests let us now understand how to manage a guest if he is upset or complaining about his dissatisfaction.
1. Guest is always right right
It is important to remember that the guests (aka customers) are always right, especially when they have an issue. It is absolutely important for hotel staff to not say anything that might give an impression that the guest is wrong or mistaken.
The primary focus should be to ensure that the issue does not escalate any further and the most easiest play in the book would be to acknowledge the guests’ point of view with an open mind and then empathize with them.
This would greatly pacify the already upset guest and diffuse the tension to a great extent.
2. Take ownership
Taking ownership is very important and is critical to the process of resolving a guest complaint. In the event of a guest complaining about an unpleasant incident, treat it and acknowledge the same as a genuine complaint.
Hotel employees should be trained to acknowledge the incident and take ownership of the incident. The guest should not get the feeling that the employee that he is complaining to is just shrugging off his responsibility or passing the buck to someone else.
Functioning of a hotel is to provide the guest with a minimum of a satisfactory stay and if the guest is complaining about the same then it is every employee’s problem and who ever is facing the guest should take ownership of the issue and take necessary steps towards addressing it.
This does not mean the employees should admit culpability, but instead a simple apology and quick addressing of the issue would speak volumes about the fact on how serious a hotel is in providing a great service to the guests.
3. Concentrate on pacifying the guest
An upset guest could be emotional and express the same to the hotel staff in front of him. On the contrary, the employees should be trained to manage the situation in an objective manner.
It is important to understand that the guest does not have a personal grudge against the hotel or the employee and is indeed upset with the untoward incident.
To start with the employee should carefully listen to the guest, address the guest by their name and make constant eye contact. If required the employee can also take notes. These actions would convey the guests that the hotel staffs are sincerely showing interest in solving the guest’s issue.
4. Do not give false assurances
Listen and understand the guest complaint or issue carefully. Employees need to be trained not to be afraid to ask questions if required. The first step in solving the guest’s problem is to understand it clearly.
Once it is clear on what exactly is the guest’s problem and the reason he/she is upset, it is important to arrive at a possible solution.
Now it is critical to ensure that the employees do not end up making any false promises. This would further aggravate the situation.
So it is important to ensure that the guest and the hotel staff agree on a mutually accepted solution to the problem in hand. This would ensure that the guest is happy with his problem being addressed and the hotel able to meet the expectation of the guest.
In the worst situations it is close to impossible to achieve a mutually agreed solution, the guest can be offered some attractive services, like a room upgrade, a discount on the bill or spa coupon.
However it is important to note that this should not sound to the guest like we are bribing them or doing this because we are incapable to resolve their problem. On the contrary it should seem like the hotel is really apologetic and to make up for the inconvenience the guest is offered one of the above mentioned services.
5. Follow Up with the guest
To resolve guest’s problem is just part of the problem. It is really important to follow up with the guest to ensure that his issue has indeed been sorted out.
To put things in perspective let’s consider a scenario:
A guest in room number 404 has complained about the air conditioning (AC) not working. It’s been an hour and no one showed up to the guest room to look at his complaint.
Now after much escalation and deliberation the issue has now been fixed and the guest has been pacified. But to ensure that the guest is completely satisfied with the complaint the hotel staff need to be trained to follow up and check on them to ensure that the problem has indeed been fixed and the guest is happy.
A simple follow up goes a long way in ensuring a happy guest and also in pacifying and upset guest.
6. Use a guest complaint and request management software
A guest complaint and request management software would be very helpful in providing a great service to the guests.
The main reason a guest gets upset is because either his complaint has not been rectified or his one of his requests was delayed.
A simple analysis of any hotel’s negative reviews would provide a clear picture that, most of the negative reviews are either due to a slow service or no one turning up to address a complaint. Both these incidents can be eradicated if the hotel is using a guest complaint and request management software.
For more details about a guest complaint and request management software you can read our article on what is a complaint management software for hotels.